View to an ‘overkill’ | Inquirer Opinion

View to an ‘overkill’

/ 05:15 AM June 21, 2024

What is wrong with this scenario?

After much pressure from several sectors about how long it was taking them to serve the arrest warrants of self-proclaimed “appointed son of God” Apollo Quiboloy, the Philippine National Police and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group finally stormed the pastor’s properties, including the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KJC) compound in Davao City, on June 10.

Quiboloy has three standing arrest warrants for child and sexual abuse issued by the Davao City Regional Trial Court, and human trafficking issued by a Pasig City court. The cases are nonbailable. He has also been indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States for similar charges.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte, a staunch Quiboloy supporter who was appointed administrator of KJC properties in March, immediately described the raid as an “overkill,” quite a turnaround for the man who once defended the soaring body count in the extrajudicial killings by the police as proof of the “success” of his war on drugs. “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me,” he had warned drug dealers at the start of his term.


Show of touching empathy

Vice President Sara Duterte similarly slammed the police operations and called for “a proper, acceptable, and humane enforcement of law and justice in our country.” Added the official who was seen on video punching a sheriff for carrying out a demolition when she was Davao City mayor in 2011: “Let us not forget the safety of everyone, especially the civilians.” Her belated concern for human rights was promptly echoed by Sen. Robinhood Padilla who wants the Senate to probe the police for its alleged use of “unnecessary and unrestrained force” in its latest attempt to collar Quiboloy.

But more surprising that the show of touching empathy by these three tough political personalities was the quick blowback that followed: the relief, posthaste, of the operatives involved in the raid, with three high-ranking officials and 12 police officers reassigned to the Calabarzon area, which would effectively exile them from the “crime scene.”

While the personnel movement was ostensibly meant to allow a full investigation on whether or not the police operations hewed to accepted protocols, the timing and swiftness of the fallout were oddly suspicious. Were other forces, aside from the long arm of the law, at play here?

Lack of reliable intelligence

The words of Quiboloy lawyer Israelito Torreon were quite telling: The police, he said, did not make a call to former president Duterte about serving the arrest warrants. Was he saying that the court ruling can be challenged by even former officials? Or that the former president should vet every government action that happens in what used to be his turf? The lawyer added that the fugitive pastor was a religious person, so there was no excuse for the show of force from the arresting officers.


For its part, the PNP explained that, given the expected resistance from Quiboloy’s supporters, it had to send out a large contingent to serve the arrest warrants. Indeed, a scuffle ensued, with both sides claiming provocation from the other. Despite the tension, nobody was reported hurt. Judging from footage in news reports, the police showed admirable restraint, certainly an understated trait in its usual handling of mass actions by street protesters. What the police can be faulted of in this instance was its glaring lack of reliable intelligence and information on the televangelist’s hiding place. Or maybe the parties were warned of the impending raid by those still loyal to the powers behind KJC?

Brazen defiance

Amid this back and forth, officials from the justice department and the interior and local government have remained mum instead of actively defending the court warrants. Their silence and Quiboloy’s brazen defiance of the court process have once more showcased the major flaw in the country’s justice system and law enforcement, with officials wringing their hands while untouchable personalities hold themselves above the law.


Why the “overkill,” Duterte had asked, when the pastor had been “merely accused of committing a crime and have not been proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt?” It’s a procedural question that a former prosecutor such as Duterte could have answered himself: With Quiboloy evading the law and powerful protectors having his back, the police can only do so much without risking their career as has happened in this case. So far, authorities can only appeal to Quiboloy “to peacefully surrender, accept the warrant, and address the charges brought against him,” while urging his followers to “respect the legal process and the fundamental laws that govern society.”

Barring that, nothing less than resolute political will from the top could extract this fugitive from his cozy wormhole and force him to face the courts to prove his vaunted innocence.

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